Anybody have inconsistent performance with the 18-55?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by Jman13, Mar 28, 2013.

  1. Jman13

    Jman13 FujiXspot Regular

    161
    Mar 7, 2013
    Columbus, OH
    I've had my 18-55 for about a month now, and I've used it quite a bit. I've been both pleased and frustrated by it, and I'm wondering if this is normal or if my lens has something wrong with it.

    In about 95% of images, it's quite sharp and works well. It's a little softer at the long end than the wide end, but still decent. I could live with that, though I'm not sure if it's 100% normal.

    Anyway, the problem is that every once in a while, the lens will throw out a soft image for what appears to be no reason at all. I haven't been able to narrow it down to any specific set of circumstances, and it's quite frustrating. For instance, there will be times where I am taking pictures in daylight, with good shutter speeds, and I'll take two shots of the same scene, and one will be relatively sharp, and the other soft, despite shutter speeds being well above what would cause camera shake. I'm wondering if there may be a problem with the IS unit when shooting above the regular handholdable speed, but I haven't been able to narrow it down to that.

    See this example. These are two shots, taken from the same spot, with almost the same framing (a little movement between). One on the left is at 1/450s, the one on the right is 1/250s (changed EC between shots). You can see that the one on the left is noticeably softer than the one on the right, even though camera shake is completely a non-issue (and I shot viewfinder to eye with good technique), and focus was obtained fine.

    1855odd.

    Anyone notice this with theirs? I got the lens from B&H, and requested a return just in case (before my 30 days were up), but they're closed and won't get to my request until next Wednesday. Not sure if they'll take it back by then, as it will have been 36 days, but I'd imagine since I requested it before the 30 days were up they'll honor it. Still, if they don't, I could potentially send it to Fuji for repair. However, all this is moot if it's just something one has to deal with with this lens.
     
  2. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    793
    Jan 31, 2013
    Boston, MA (USA)
    I haven't noticed that with my copy. It's been consistently very sharp. I'm sure B&H will let you return, and if they give you any issue just PM Henry Posner (he has an account at Mu-43), and he'll take care of you.
     
  3. carlb

    carlb FujiXspot Veteran

    267
    Feb 6, 2013
    twin cities, minnesota
    Carl
    No such problem with mine either. Very sharp for about every shot I've taken.

    Question about your test shots - did the un-sharpness/sharpness result carry across to center frame?

    A bit worried that perhaps the problem is with the camera body when using this lens, rather than the lens itself. No way to test that without access to a few bodies and lenses. If that's the case, then the new lens won't sort the problem.
     
  4. flysurfer

    flysurfer X-Pert

    Feb 1, 2013
    Nuremberg
    Rico Pfirstinger
    Try to turn off the OIS for fast speeds and look if the problem is still there. It may be the OIS introducing shake at fast speeds. In this case, update the firmware to the latest version, and if this doesn't help, have the lens repaired/replaced.
     
  5. Rich M

    Rich M FujiXspot Regular

    50
    Feb 1, 2013
    Hawaii
    Richard
    No problems with mine either....damn fine lens.
     
  6. Gary

    Gary FujiXspot Top Veteran

    698
    Feb 15, 2013
    SoCal
    Gary
    No problem with mine, a +1 with Flysurfer.

    G
     
  7. Armanius

    Armanius FujiXspot Top Veteran

    691
    Feb 1, 2013
    Texas
    Muttley
    I had a few off focus photos at 55mm, even in good light. But rarely any at 18mm.
     
  8. Jman13

    Jman13 FujiXspot Regular

    161
    Mar 7, 2013
    Columbus, OH
    So, an UPDATE:

    Returned my first copy and got the replacement on Friday. The second one is worse. WAY worse. In fact, the second copy is absolutely abysmal at 55mm at any focus distance further than about 2 feet at wider apertures, and only occasionally decent stopped down at further focus distances. Wider focal lengths are fine, and it's OK (and I mean merely OK...not good) at closer focus distances.

    Needless to say, I'm shipping this one back ASAP.

    Now the big quandry...do I try a third? I've seen so many good images and samples from this lens, and I know my first copy, while not perfect, was WAY better than this copy (which at 55mm and f/4 is worse than ANY kit lens I've ever used). I just don't know if I want to play roulette again. Part of me wants to give it one more go (though I'd feel awful returning another copy if it was crap again), but another part of me wants to just send it back and get the 60/2.4 instead. I want some mid-range coverage between the 14mm and 35mm, but I'm starting to think the 18-55 just wasn't meant for me.

    Example of this copy at 55mm, f/4:
    1855_full.

    Doesn't look too bad at web size. Now 100% crop of the focus area. This is the way all my long range shots at f/4 look. Sometimes by f/8 or f/10, it can get rather sharp, but a $700 lens shouldn't require f/10 to get reasonable sharpness.
    1855_crop.
     
  9. EasyEd

    EasyEd FujiXspot Rookie

    22
    Feb 1, 2013
    Hey All,

    Something is weird here. I have that lens and love it.

    Is that the point that when you review the image in camera the green plus is at? Did you choose that point specifically? How big is the focus box?

    I center focus with the smallest box and recompose paying particular attention to the depth of field. What did the DOF "ribbon" say?

    I have found F4 to be tricky because the "bokeh" at wider apertures can just appear to be out of focus and not real "bokeh" like.

    I'm not convinced you have a lens problem here.

    Don't know what is happening here - I await Flysurfer's comments.

    -Ed-
     
  10. Jman13

    Jman13 FujiXspot Regular

    161
    Mar 7, 2013
    Columbus, OH
    Trust me...I'm an experienced photographer who has used dozens upon dozens of lenses. I know when there's a problem. Of the images I took today at 55mm and f/4 exactly ZERO were sharp at the focus point (or anywhere in the frame), when focusing beyond about 6 feet. I have used 135mm f/2's, 85mm f/1.2's and everything inbetween, so I know how to handle a lens with more limited depth of field. This is not a DOF issue, nor is it a misfocusing issue (even manually focused shots with 10x enlargement when focusing are showing softness). IS was off for these, so it's not an IS issue either.
     
  11. Gary

    Gary FujiXspot Top Veteran

    698
    Feb 15, 2013
    SoCal
    Gary
    Two for two isn't good. Maybe it's the body ... do you have or access to other lenses? What processing program are you using? I heard some stuff/issues about sharpening in Lightroom, looks great but at 200% looks like crap.

    Gary
     
  12. Jman13

    Jman13 FujiXspot Regular

    161
    Mar 7, 2013
    Columbus, OH
    My 14/2.8 and 35/1.4 are both brilliantly sharp, and the 18-55 works great except at 50-55mm. My first copy was much better than this, but would throw out a garbage image at random (in situations where mid focus was highly unlikely and with high shutter speeds), which I thought was a possible IS issue...now I'm thinking I should have stuck with that one. This copy is just pure mush at 55/4.

    However, I'm strongly considering having them just replace it with the 60mm.

    Lightroom can sometimes have issues with extremely fine foliage taking on a painterly look, or color bleed. This is neither of those, and most of those issues were fixed in Lightroom 4.4. Regardless, these images still look mushy when processed with the in-camera JPEG or when processed with Capture One 7.

    Here are some other test shots (no artistic value):

    55mm @ f/4, full shot:
    1855logs_full.

    100% from where I focused:
    1855logs_crop1.

    Here, I focused on the pedestrian area/benches...this is even at f/5.6. Full shot:
    1855walk_full.

    100% crop of the whole area I had my focus box. This isn't completely terrible, but it's not really sharp (my Olympus 14-42 wide open is sharper than this, and it's a $100 plastic kit), and it's a full stop down on a $700 lens with a limited zoom range. This should absolutely be far better than this:
    1855walk_crop.

    And, I think it's a misaligned element of sorts, as I've noticed that in the situations I do get something in OK focus, that the right side (in this case the top) is noticeably better than the left side. I think one of the elements is skewed slightly. This is a SOOC JPEG, so no possible RAW converter funkiness. Focus on the building.

    Full image:
    1855leveque.

    100% crop from the mid top area (where I focused)....not TERRIBLE, but certainly not great, and notice that the left side of the crop is sharper than the right side of the crop:
    1855leveque_right.

    But go just a little bit down (and though at a slight angle from my position, at 55mm and f/4, this is absolutely within the DOF for this distance), and you see how the detail on the building turns to absolute mush. This is right near the center of the frame, only very slightly down from the crop above. The only way this occurs at this distance and apeture is with a tilt-shift...which would make sense if an element is tilted slightly. I know the flowers are OOF....but the building too is just mush:
    1855leveque_center.
     
  13. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    793
    Jan 31, 2013
    Boston, MA (USA)
    I've been very happy with my copy, the only copy I've used. If I pixel peep there is a touch of perceptible asymmetry, but I almost always see that with lenses.

    Here are two shots showing sharpened 100% crops in the right lower corner inset. The first is wide open at 18mm, and the second is wide open at 55mm. These were just handheld test snaps I took right now (no cherry picking - I took two shots and am showing you both) since I've never tried to test this lens before.

    8655179814_6ff44df418_o.

    8655179846_22c55fcc45_o.


    I've had no problems with this lens in terms of sharpness, focus, consistency, etc. It's not as sharp at tele as it is at wide, but that suits me fine since I don't need as much sharpness for most tele shots and since most standard zoom lenses are this way.

    Here are the unedited in-camera JPEGs and RAW files for the above two test snaps: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/azsrwoxvn8e5vzv/rVWgrCEji2?lst
     
  14. Jman13

    Jman13 FujiXspot Regular

    161
    Mar 7, 2013
    Columbus, OH
    Well, I've arranged the return on this one, and I'm going to just get the 60/2.4 instead. I have generally not used a standard zoom for the most part, and I usually prefer primes in this range (though I also usually have a wide zoom that goes to moderate wide), but I was looking forward to a high grade standard zoom that wasn't too big, but two duds = done for now. Perhaps further down the road I'll try another one (and will buy it locally), but for now, I'm good with the 60mm. Hopefully there'll be no problems with that. Maybe I'll pick up the 18/2 at some point for a more moderate wide as well, but that's a ways off.
     
  15. Jman13

    Jman13 FujiXspot Regular

    161
    Mar 7, 2013
    Columbus, OH
    Just a final note: My 60/2.4 came in two days ago, and I made the right decision. The 60mm is an absolutely fantastic lens. Very sharp, beautiful bokeh, etc... love it.